For the most part, I don’t care for reality TV, but I make an exception for Dancing With the Stars. But I admit I don’t pay close attention to all the drama between dances. Two seasons ago, one contestant stood out. Noah Galloway, and perhaps I should have been absorbing the drama. He didn’t win, but making it to the finals was no mean achievement considering he was a warrior who had lost an arm and a leg to an IED in Iraq. In spite of his injuries, he was a joy to watch on the dance floor. And then there was his heartwarming proposal to his sweetheart.
Needless to say, when I saw that he had written a book about his journey from dedicated warrior to severely injured man struggling with depression and a new normal, to the man we saw on TV, I wanted to read it. My daughter dropped Living With No Excuses onto my Kindle for Christmas and I couldn’t wait to get started.
Perhaps I wouldn’t have been so let down by Noah’s unflinchingly honest story if I was not a romance author, I would have been able to applaud Noah’s achievements without wishing he had been a better, more caring husband. I do like my happy endings. But it’s more than that. I enjoy cheering on two people, real or imaginary, who love each other and have to find a way to make that love work through challenges that put that love on the line. I especially like it when they succeed. Noah did not.
His first marriage was on the rocks before his injuries, partly due to the stress of his military deployments but even more due to his selfish and single-minded devotion to being a warrior. He honestly admits to letting go of that relationship, often citing how young they were when they married. But unless he left a lot out of the telling, he didn’t really put much effort into being a good husband and making his marriage work. He was more focused on loving his job as a soldier. He says more about loving his life as a soldier than he does about loving his wife. Perhaps by the time he wrote this memoir, he no longer remembered loving her.
After his injuries, and even after he’d begun to heal and find himself again he struggled a lot with depression – who wouldn’t given the extent of his injuries and the cataclysmic changes that brought to his life doing what he loved? But in the midst of that he reconnected with a friend from high school and that turned into a love affair and then marriage. Another caring woman who gave Noah an incredible amount of love and support during very difficult times.
And yet, he had found another single-minded focus – and again it was not his wife or their marriage. It was in competition to prove he could still cut it as an athlete. Competition after competition, race after race, and he never mentions how his wife and chief supporter felt about the time he spent away from the family, both competing and encouraging other athletes with disabilities. Nor does he mention anything he did or tried to do, to keep their marriage healthy and strong. Once again, he was selfishly focused on being better with each race or each event and neglecting to be a good husband. Being in a relationship requires work, caring and dedication. I am not minimizing the effects of depression, but it seems, from Noah’s own account, that he did very little to mend the rifts that appeared in his marriage and eventually that failed just like the first. He didn’t have youth to blame this time.
At this point I am wondering why Noah thought that embarking on yet another relationship with another wonderfully loving and supportive woman was fair to either of them if he wasn’t going to be willing to give at least as much as he got. He went down on one knee on national television and proposed to this woman in a wonderfully heartwarming moment. And one is rejoicing that finally, Noah, who has been through so much loss, is going to have his happy ever after. How quickly that hope is dashed. When his fiancé quite normally expects to have children and Noah has always loved his role as a dad, it’s kind of shocking when he says no. He has three kids, one from the first marriage and two from the second. He admits that he loves his children and they are an amazing and wonderful part of his life. And yet, he would deny the woman he loves the chance to experience the wonder of carrying a child and becoming a mom. To me that was the deal breaker.
Noah is an amazing man. He’s come through an ordeal that few can even imagine. He’s rebuilt himself and he is an inspiration to thousands. And yet, he is so focused on himself and what he wants that he would not give the woman he loved a child of her own. How can I admire the hero would won’t give anything in his power to the woman he loves? Where is her happy ever after?
Reading Noah's story is an amazing journey. He struggled and fought his way through devastating injury, dozens of surgeries, months of rehabilitation and therapy, years of depression, failed relationships and so much we’ll never know or understand. He is a remarkable man and an inspiration to anyone who has their own mountain to climb. But in spite of all that, he disappointed me. Perhaps I was expecting too much.
Living with No Excuses: The Remarkable Rebirth of an American Soldier
Military hero and beloved Dancing with the Stars alum Noah Galloway shares his life story, and how losing his arm and leg in combat forced him to relearn how to live--and live to the fullest.
Inspirational, humorous, and thought provoking, Noah Galloway's LIVING WITH NO EXCUSES sheds light on his upbringing in rural Alabama, his military experience, and the battle he faced to overcome losing two limbs during Operation Iraqi Freedom. From reliving the early days of life to his acceptance of his "new normal" after losing his arm and leg in combat, Noah reveals his ambition to succeed against all odds.
Noah's gripping story is a shining example that with laughter, and the right amount of perspective, you can tackle anything. Whether it be overcoming injury, conquering the Dancing with the Stars ballroom, or taking the next steps forward in life with his young family - Noah demonstrates how to live life to the fullest, with no excuses.